Evaluating pastors and priests

At Duke Divinity’s “Call & Response Blog,” James Howell reflects upon some of the complexities of a new evaluation system in his denomination. Do you evaluate your pastor or priest? If not, why not? If so, how and why?

And then there is news that there is a website in Germany that allows you to “rate your priest” online. Is this coming to the shore of the New World soon? Hmmm

James Howell: Evaluation anxiety

Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog

We need to engage in process, and I suspect our new improved process is as good or better than any. But how can we without excessive fret and perspiration, sweating our way through the whole process?

I wonder if we begin with the curious recognition that at some level, clergy don’t really work for the people in the church, and don’t exist to satisfy their expectations. Certainly in denominations like mine, where we are “sent” to the people, but also in every ecclesiastical organization, we are charged with bringing something to the congregation the congregation hasn’t asked for and doesn’t prefer.

. . .

Sometimes what we’re called to bring is strange, even to the clergy. I just finished Eugene Peterson’s “The Pastor,” and his best moments come when he exposes “the Americanization of the congregation,” which turns each congregation “into a market for religious consumers, an ecclesiastical business run along the lines of advertising techniques, organizational flow charts, and energized by impressive motivational rhetoric.” In such churches, clergy pass evaluations with flying colors, but worship lapses into “entertainment, cheerleading, and manipulation… a public relations campaign for Jesus.” This strikes Peterson, and me, as “a violation of the holy, a secularization of the sacred, taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Or what about his realization “that I was gradually becoming more interested in dealing with my congregation as problems to be fixed than as members of the household of God to be led in worship and service”?

Yelp for Religion: German Website Lets you rate your priest

From Time NewsFeed

If there’s one thing people are opinionated about besides politics, it’s religion. But most priests don’t keep comment card boxes outside their offices, and now some enterprising Germans have come up with a solution. It’s called the “Hirtenbarometer”—try saying that three times fast—a.k.a. the “Shepherd’s Barometer.”

It is an intriguing idea— www.hirtenbarometer.de allows users to rate priests for their performance in church, with youth, with the elderly, etc. There’s even a category for whether or not your priest is “up-to-date.” The results are constantly updated with the new average. With the Rhineland still reeling from the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, it’s no surprise that the public wants to know: can I trust my priest?

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